Meet The New President, Same As The Last

That’s what Barry Ritholtz over at the Big Picture is calling our President: Barack W. Obama. Ritholtz sees little difference between Obama’s financial sector polices and those of his predecessor. Speaking as a supporter of Obama during the election campaign, I must agree with Ritholtz.

The Obama administration has neutered every attempt at serious reform of the financial sector and continues to feed Wall Street with a silver spoon. Calculated Risk ran this interesting post on Goldman Sachs and the record bonuses expected for 2009, not one year removed from the various bail-out programs (TARP, FDIC-backed debt, etc). Even as he rails about the plight of the middle-class, his administration funnels most of the government largesse to Wall Street with a nice kickback to an antiquated autoworkers union. Obama’s harsh words are always followed by conciliatory and appeasing actions but we knew that about the man coming into this administration.

His political calculus is that he can maintain his popular support base while also nursing his finance infrastructure via the large corporate interests but he had better watch out. His supporters, having witnessed him water down or walk back nearly every campaign promise, is less fervent and if we experience a bad economic event before the midterms, the electorate may send him a very strong message.

Even as I endorsed Obama, I never bought into the change rhetoric. The powers of the status quo are simply too strong for one person to overcome — that will take a crisis of monumental proportions (and apparently one bigger than the crash of 2008). But I did not expect him to further execute the Bush financial policy. As far as I can tell, the only difference between Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner is that Paulson had more spine!

New President but the open spigot for Wall Street continues. Disgusting. Obama seems partial to copping union chants for his own use (“Yes We Can!”) so here’s another labor chant for him: Shame on you, Obama. Shame on you.

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